Thursday, July 23, 2009

try harder

This has made the rounds quite a bit, but since people keep weighing in I thought I would post the link:

The AIGA 50 books / 50 covers competition. The most prestigious competition for book covers in my opinion has been taking some heat over the last month with the announcement of only 41 covers that made the cut. A lot of back and forth between designers and even AIGA weighing in, but in my opinion AIGA is really just trying to tell all of us:

try harder.

A little upsetting considering all of us try beyond 100%--not that that should make every design an award winner. I think my site is testament to the fact that much work & thought goes into a cover and sometimes once the designs are put through the ringer, you're lucky to get something you're proud of at the end. I would like to think AIGA is clued into what is happening in book publishing these days with the economy and the threat of e-books. Let's be honest, publishers, editors and sales are nervous and thus not taking as many chances on design...which makes it an even bigger feat when a great cover is published. Apparently they aren't aware that an organization dedicated to design, with the power to enhance the importance of book design, has just rendered themselves clueless. I think we all know, based on the work we see on other blogs, websites, and in stores, that there had to have been another 9 covers to make it a true "50." Most people weighing in have won the award in the past, so I don't think it's a matter of sore losers. Our field is relatively small and I like to think very supportive, so I see the comments over on design:related as positive for our field.

**I just want to note that unfortunately what's been lost in the discussion is the fact that 41 great covers were recognized by AIGA this year. I'm guilty of forgetting to mention it myself. Congratulations to all the designers who did's a great selection and worth a visit to the AIGA site to check them out:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sentimental Heartbroken Rednecks

A cover from a few years ago for S&H, a book that combines autobiography, short fiction, and essay with tales of class, poverty, and violence set in the South.

The first one I used some hand drawn bits. My aim with the drawing was to (referencing the drinking and hallucinating, etc.) give the cover an organic feel, similar to the writing.

When this was deemed to "light" feeling, I sourced an image of a man that fit the author better (and coincidentally was told the photo looked just like him). I then paired the portrait with an unassuming image of the suburbs. I liked this juxtaposition and felt it hit the tone well.

Alas, in the end we went with a simple texture to evoke some sense of place. Feels like a dead end place...which ultimately fits the book as well.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Laboring on Railroads

Sorry for the break in posting. Have been working on a mammoth book on Railroads. Now that the 550+ pages are wrapping up, I'll be back next week with a new shelved book cover.

(This jacket will be printed on metallic stock)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shame in the Blood

For Shoemaker & Hoard (now Counterpoint)

From Amazon: Told as six interlocked and layered stories, the novel builds and deepens as the particulars of everyday life provide a moving, beautiful testimony to the love and power of youth and commitment. The whole story is tinged with melancholic sadness often associated with Japanese literature, where the feeling of love itself is “a little death.”

The publisher originally asked that I use the Japanese prints on the cover. I did 2 comps using the prints, and one of my own, that was chosen. Somehow I didn't feel the prints told the story. Instead, I found the image of the woman and liked the “raw” quality of the photo. I paired it with a dahlia drawing which has a fragile look to it (dahlias are mentioned in the title story). The top portion of the cover uses red dots (blood) and the bottom portion uses white (snow). In general, I think the final comp shows a vulnerability which I sensed in the writing. The mechanical is below: